The Athletic’s latest mock draft has Red Sox taking Clemson University third baseman Max Wagner with top pick

In his first mock draft of the year, Keith Law of The Athletic has the Red Sox selecting Clemson University third baseman Max Wagner with their top pick at No. 24 overall.

Wagner is not regarded by publications such as Baseball America or MLB Pipeline as one of the top prospects in the 2022 draft class, but Law has identified the 20-year-old infielder as one of the draft’s up-and-comers.

“Wagner is one of the fastest risers in the draft this year after a stretch in April where he hit 12 homers in 14 games, putting him second in Division I right now behind Texas’ Alex Melendez,” Law wrote on Thursday. “His pull-heavy approach would play very well in Fenway or Minute Maid [Park], although I’m not sure he’s going to stay on the dirt.”

Coming into play on Thursday, the right-handed hitter has slashed a stout .377/.506/.863 with 15 doubles, one triple, 24 home runs, 69 RBIs, 61 runs scored, one stolen base, 42 walks, and 43 strikeouts through his first 53 games (236 plate appearances) with the Tigers this season.

Defensively, Wagner has seen all his playing time in college come at third base. As noted by Law, though, the draft-eligible sophomore from Green Bay could be best suited for the outfield given his 6-foot, 215-pound frame.

That Wagner, who turns 21 in August, has posted a ridiculous 1.370 OPS this year is impressive when you consider the fact that he struggled to the tune of a .651 OPS in 35 games as a freshman. The improvement, per Law, comes from a swing change.

“Wagner changed his swing after an underwhelming freshman year for Clemson,” he wrote in his scouting report, “and now the draft-eligible sophomore is destroying fastballs with plus-plus power to his pull side, and shows solid command of the strike zone, although his defense at third isn’t great and he might end up in an outfield corner.”

The Red Sox last used as first-round pick on a college infielder in 2012, when they took Deven Marrero out of Arizona State University. Fast forward 10 years, and the assigned slot value for the 24th overall selection in the 2022 draft — which begins in Los Angeles on July 17 — comes in at roughly $2.975 million.

Will Boston use its first-round pick this year on a more experienced player such as Wagner? Or will they use it on a more highly-touted high schooler like Dylan Lesko? The next two months could determine the answers to these questions.

(Picture of Max Wagner: Bart Boatwright/The Clemson Insider)

Red Sox sign Clemson University outfielder Kier Meredith

The Red Sox have signed Clemson University outfielder Kier Meredith as an undrafted free agent, Clemson Baseball announced on Thursday.

Meredith, 21, is a redshirt sophomore who spent four years at Clemson after not signing with the Chicago Cubs despite being selected by them in the 28th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Robert B. Glenn High School (N.C.).

This past spring with the Tigers, the North Carolina native slashed .283/.387/.422 with eight doubles, four triples, three home runs, 25 RBI, 33 runs scored, six stolen bases, 12 walks, and 28 strikeouts over 47 games spanning 218 trips to the plate.

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Meredith — a left-handed hitter — has experience in both left and center field, though he missed a majority of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns due to a plethora of injuries.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Meredith “has the speed and defensive profile you look for, but future potential will be determined by how much he hits. Has a knack for getting on base and solid feel at the plate. Strong makeup and work ethic. Strong leadership skills, leaves it all on the field night after night. Type of person every organization strives to have.”

While 15 total stolen bases over 86 career games with Clemson may not seem like much, Meredith is certainly well-known for his speed, as he explained to The Clemson Insider on Thursday.

“First of all speed has always been my best tool so in order for me to have success at the next level I need to utilize that as much as I can,” said Meredith. “I need to continue to develop as a better defender and continue to develop as a better hitter. If I do those three things it will help me have as much success as I’m going to have.”

A three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll member, Meredith graduated from Clemson with a degree in psychology this past May. He will report to the Red Sox’ spring training complex in Fort Myers next week.

At the moment, Meredith is the only confirmed undrafted free-agent the Red Sox have signed thus far, according to Baseball America. Undrafted free-agents can sign with clubs for up to $20,000.

Last year, Boston was one of the more active teams in the UDFA market at the conclusion of the shortened 2020 draft, as they signed a grand total of 16 prospects.

When speaking with reporters earlier this week, Red Sox director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni hinted that the club would once again be right in the thick of things when it came to potentially scooping up those prospects who were passed on during the draft.

“We are going to try to be active to the extent that we can and to the extent that we can accommodate whatever number of players there are,” Toboni said on Tuesday. “We think it’s a really good opportunity to find undervalued players on a market where maybe the value — for whatever reason — might be suppressed a little bit.”

(Picture of Kier Meredith: Dawson Powers/TigerIllustrated.com)

Red Sox sign former Athletics right-hander Daniel Gossett to minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Daniel Gossett to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Gossett, 28, was originally drafted by Boston out of high school in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to Clemson University as opposed to signing with the club.

Later drafted out of Clemson by the Athletics in the second of the 2014 amateur draft, the South Carolina native made 23 big-league starts with Oakland between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He posted a 5.91 ERA and 5.67 FIP over 115 2/3 total innings of work in those outings before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2018.

Since going under the knife, Gossett may have missed the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019, but he did make five starts for the Mesa Solar Sox in last year’s Arizona Fall League.

In those five starts, the 6-foot, 185 lb. hurler yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over 14 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.57 and .204 batting average against.

Following that impressive showing in the desert, Gossett opened up the shortened 2020 campaign on the Athletics’ 40-man roster and at the team’s alternate training site in San Jose. But, the once-highly touted pitching prospect was designated for assignment and subsequently released in late July.

According to The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard, Gossett “is healthy and ready for a full season in 2021.”

If anything, Gossett could provide intriguing starting rotation depth to a Red Sox team in need of it at the moment.

Working primarily with a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, and sinker, the former A’s righty owns a lifetime 3.36 ERA over 23 appearances (21 starts) and 128 2/3 innings spanning parts of three seasons, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

With that in mind, Gossett could begin the 2021 season in Triple-A Worcester’s rotation depending on how well he performs in spring training. We will have to wait and see on that.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed — Gossett included — or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett